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5 Programmers Examine The Talent Vs. Play By Play Issue

Jason Barrett

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Last week in Detroit, CBS Detroit and the Detroit Lions announced an end to their broadcast partnership after eighteen seasons together. The Lions will be moving to WJR next season.

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When the decision was announced, the team stated they made the move for business reasons. 97.1 The Ticket afternoon host Mike Valenti said the decision was personal and had more to do with the Lions disdain for him and their desire to control the media’s message.

CBS Detroit Market Manager Debbie Kenyon released a statement which was in line with Valenti’s assessments. She said “In the end it came down to the integrity of CBS — the refusal to be censored in talking about the team and making honest assessments on the air about this team.”

Valenti and Kenyon’s strong assertions forced the Lions into damage control mode. Elizabeth Parkinson, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Sponsorships for the Lions offered her position. “I know there’s a bit of narrative out there regarding the notion that, somehow the Lions are practicing some sort of censorship. If we were trying to practice any sort of censorship, we certainly would’ve done it (the switch) much sooner. Anytime our media is either not factual or misrepresenting the content that they’re sharing, those calls are made. Our media team works with all media outlets to correct inaccuracies, and they were working with The Ticket to correct inaccuracies.”

But was the team using its position as a partner to reach out and correct mistakes? Or were they using the association to limit negativity and increase positive conversation?

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Gregg Henson, who now programs in Pittsburgh, and spent 15 years in Detroit as a Programmer and On-Air host, said the Lions issues with the media are very real. In a blog post on his website, Henson added: “It’s been going on for 20 years. When I programmed WDFN in the 90’s, the Lions on many occasions complained to our bosses about the on-air content and we weren’t even the rights holder for the team. At one point, they informed WDFN upper management that if Art Regner and I were terminated they would “consider” granting WDFN the team’s broadcast rights.”

Henson continued ” The main culprit was Lion’s PR Director Bill Keenist. He attempted to turn hosts against one another and complain that Art (Regner) and I didn’t go to practice. He implored our bosses to “mandate” that we come to practice. Why? So he could bully us into his way of thinking. He even threatened to pull our credentials if we didn’t fall in line.”

When organizations attempt to control the way personalities think and operate, it often ends badly. You don’t develop great relationships that way. I used to tell one individual “if you’re not going to consult me when you’re changing your roster and potentially impacting my station’s ability to generate ratings and revenue, then don’t expect me to afford you the same courtesy”.

Some teams that I’ve worked with have been more than fair in the way they handle business. Much of that starts with the individuals who are in charge. In the Bay Area, I had a great rapport with both football teams because Marc Badain and Will Kiss with the Raiders and Bob Sargent and Bob Lange at the 49ers, are not only first class people, but they respect the media and understand the business. Rarely did my phone ring for something minor.

I’ve also dealt with a few teams who were very sensitive to criticism and wanted on-air talent fired, suspended, or required to attend games and practices. Those teams not only lose the respect of the hosts but they also create a situation where they become the enemy of the Program Director. That’s not positive for anyone involved.

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One word that far too often comes into play is ‘partnership’ and it’s a word that means something entirely different to each side. Many teams believe it means the radio station will be positive, avoid difficult subjects, and offer the franchise the benefit of the doubt when bad things happen. Radio stations believe it means the station has the exclusive right to air the team’s games, sell ads during the broadcast, use the franchise’s logos in all marketing materials, and have access to special guests and broadcast opportunities without their weekday content being compromised.

From where I sit, both sides need to understand what they’re signing up for in advance. Rights fees don’t increase when teams create headaches and roadblocks, and stations don’t continue to enjoy the benefit of the association when they’re close minded and using the airwaves to deliver verbal haymakers.

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One rule I’ve stressed to my staffs over the years was to be critical of performance, but avoid personal attacks and cheap shots. The result of a game, the performance by an athlete, the poor execution by an organization to provide a positive game experience, those are all fair. Teams may not like hearing it but the facts are the facts. We owe the audience an honest analysis and if the criticisms are directed in that way, I’ll battle for any individual’s ability to speak their mind.

On the other hand, it’s tougher to defend a talent when they step outside the lines and get personal. Whether the team gave you good seats to a game, the best setup at training camp, the interview you wanted, or the best spot in the media press box shouldn’t influence how you speak about their performance. You’re privileged to have access to many of these things and if you don’t get your way, that shouldn’t restrict your ability to be fair. If you want to call the owner a drunk, or suggest that a front office executive has photos of the owner to remain employed, be prepared to lose that fight, and in some cases your job.

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Where this becomes interesting is when you’re forced to choose between play by play and your weekday programming. While I’m sure money was a big factor in the conversation in Detroit, I do believe that the integrity of the radio station came into play. I respect Debbie Kenyon and CBS for standing by Mike Valenti. I’m not sure how many others would’ve done the same.

Play by Play rights fees are high and often cause stations to lose money. But they also deliver audience, attract good sales people, and usually help a station enjoy great ratings success. When a team leaves a radio station, good people usually follow, and ratings aren’t far behind. Whether that will or won’t happen in Detroit remains to be seen.

In looking across the country at the top 25 markets, the ratings leader in each city usually has a play by play partnership with a popular local team. Less than 5 of the top 25 cities had a station winning the local competition without an NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL franchise on their airwaves. Those who carry local NFL/MLB teams perform even higher than those with NBA/NHL rights.

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As necessary as it may be for sports stations to offer dynamic air talent M-F 6a-7p, numerous radio operators believe that they stand a better chance to drive higher ratings and revenue with play by play on their airwaves.

But what happens when you’re forced to choose between the two? Can you win without a popular local team’s games on your radio station? Can you afford to lose a dominant personality and replace them with lesser talent simply to keep a team on your airwaves?

I was curious of how other programmers felt about the importance of play by play and what their preference would be if they had to choose. Given the sensitive nature of the discussion, I’ve elected to keep the identities of the 5 programmers I spoke with private. Although I’d love to believe that a candid conversation like this wouldn’t lead to additional headaches, I’m not certain it wouldn’t.

How important is play by play to your ratings success?

PD1: Play-by-play of a winning team is the greatest marketing a station can get. It brings people to your station that you’d never otherwise have sample your product. When you combine that with a brand which is better than the competition, but not the heritage station in the market, it can be very valuable to success.

PD2: Play by play is important because there is a big cume available for stations to use to send their messages to listeners. This is important for directing the audience back into your weekday programming.

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PD3: Very! Though the caveat is what sport, what team(s), and most importantly – relevance. The NFL is king. I could run a Jacksonville-Buffalo game on a Sunday morning and get a ton more meters than other sports’ play-by-play. With everything else, it depends on the specific significance of the event. As our local teams progress thru their respective seasons, we see either ascending or descending interest based on how they perform.

PD4: It’s very important but it’s not the play by play as much as it is using the game broadcast to get folks to come back the day(s) after to help with cume for the M-F shows.

PD5: Ratings success depends largely on the success of the team. I have been PD of a station with Play By Play of a team that does not attract a large audience and therefore the pxp is a detriment to the success of the station. It’s 3 hours where the station could be talking about other teams in the market or content that has greater local appeal. If the team is in second or third place or even worse in terms of standings or importance, it hurts.

How important is play by play to your station’s revenue success?

PD1: It helps. As much as anything, it opens doors with advertisers who may not be familiar with us. When you’re the flagship of a major professional team, very rarely do you have sales calls go unanswered.  We’re not allowed to sell spots in our “direct play-by-play,” the game, coach’s show, etc., but what the play-by-play allows us to do is build shoulder programming around it and position ourselves as the flagship.

PD2: Enormous. It’s not just the on-air commercials that spike rates and revenue. It’s the relationship and tickets that come with the partnership. My sales manager once said, “having that relationship allows you to say “please” to potential new clients and “thank you” to loyal clients.”

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PD3: Revenue is a big part of play by play deals. Making a buck is tough these days especially with expensive rights deals. For many clients, the emotional attachment to a certain team is the deciding factor in spending money on the station. Having it available helps bring clients in the door, with the goal being to make them a larger part of the station down the road, whether that’s through buying features associated to the team, sportscasts or anything else programming related.

PD4: It is very important to our revenue. We put a lot of effort into selling our local play by play and when we have success selling it, it lifts all aspects of revenue for the station. We tie together our play by play sales and station sales so when play by play is hot, it carries over to the spot sales and NTR (non-traditional revenue) for the sports talk programming.

PD5: It depends on the specific play-by-play partner and relationship. Most teams/franchises are taking their broadcasts in-house and controlling all or most of the inventory, so the value in these affiliations might be in ancillary programming – coach’s shows, pre/post game, sponsored features/segments suited towards team coverage. The ratings help you might get from play by play cume increases, can boost your weekday numbers which helps your sales department when it comes to selling spots and other station items.

Considering the financial commitment that is required to secure a local team’s broadcast rights, are they worth it?

PD1: If it’s an “A” property – MLB, NBA, NFL, major college, I think it is worth it. It can be a tremendous hassle (I’ve seen it in every market I’ve worked) but from a branding and credibility standpoint, whether you’re an established station or a startup – it has undeniable benefits that couldn’t be attained any other way.

PD2: Having worked in several markets where team broadcast rights fees are a big part of the stations expense line, it really comes down to the bottom line and how much the station/company is willing to partner with the team. That “partnership” and the willingness to work together in the “radio marriage” is essential. Does the team have a list of restricted categories for selling? Are they willing to work and push dollars from their major sponsors to you? Is the station willing to introduce their clients to the sports property? It is one of the biggest commitments and all of these items must be presented before the marriage is set – no surprises. Surprises are what lead to a bitter relationship.

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PD3: This depends on the sport, franchise and city. For example, if you went to Minneapolis, I’m sure it’d be worth it to be the flagship for the Minnesota Vikings, but probably not as much to carry the Minnesota Timberwolves. Each market has a team or two that exceeds the others in value and interest.

PD4: In today’s radio business climate, I think it’s important to enter into these agreements with the idea of making money or at least breaking even. The problem with losing money on radio rights deals is that it ends up impacting your sports talk lineup. Usually when a station loses money on the rights, they’re forced to trim staff.

PD5: It depends on the market and team. In my city, if you have football it’s worth it. If you were in St. Louis and you had baseball, it’s worth it. Football rules in most markets, but in some the others (baseball and basketball) do and don’t make business sense.

What chance does a station have of winning a ratings & revenue battle in a local market if it doesn’t have play by play and the competitor does?

PD1: Year round it’s all about your station’s personalities. Those who have polarizing talent with an ability to “say something” always keep a brand from being dependent on the performance of a local team. Owning NFL coverage in a city can make it seem to listeners that your station gives the “best” coverage without owning the rights.

PD2: It depends on the market and teams. I think if you do some research on top rated stations in NFL cities you will see the majority have the rights to the NFL team. Then the question is, what came first? Did the team go to the top station and the top station got better? Or did the team make that station the top station?

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PD3: Creative programming wins. Having the ability to sell special features, shows, covering the team with reporters, segments and special guests can give the station the upper hand in being the station of record for the sports property. If the play by play for a popular franchise is not available in the market, get over it and start thinking of ways you can still cover the team and win.

PD4: It is hard to win the 12+ number in the ratings world if you don’t have play by play but you can win the 25-54 battle 6a-7pm if you have great personalities, and that demo is key for most sports stations. As for revenue, not having play by play might make winning the overall billing battle more difficult but you can still be profitable as a radio station without play by play.

PD5: It’s very possible to win the ratings without play-by-play. Some stations have the luxury of being the hotter brand than the team. In other cases, the team is a hotter brand than the station. A station needs to see where they stand in that assessment when analyzing their play-by-play options. Not every station needs play-by-play to drive their success. But even on stronger brands, it’s nice programming to have on nights and weekends, where it doesn’t interfere with what is really driving the station, for both ratings and revenue.

How do you handle situations that arise when teams wish to influence content on your airwaves?

PD1: I meet for lunch with front office personnel and attend games regularly. Relationships are key and I believe in making myself available as a sounding board, not my on-air talent. I have never had a problem with a team because I explain up front that we will criticize but be fair and I encourage my hosts to show up in the locker room and at practices and games. That helps build the relationship.

PD2: There is one guarantee when becoming a flagship, the team will have “concerns” with the on-air commentary and voice their opinions to management about them. This has taken place in every single team-station relationship I’ve been a part of. Being accessible to discuss issues is key, and each situation is dealt with on a case by case basis.

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PD3: Hopefully at the point of agreeing to the contract, we’ve made it clear who we are and what we’re about. My direction to my talent is that they (a) go to the games…that’s why I get them credentialed (b) give your opinions based on what you saw and experienced, not always on what you read from someone else. That way if/when a team has an issue with something we’ve said, we can say we’ve done so from a standpoint of coverage and credibility, not just being salacious and/or outspoken. When you’re at the games and the PR staffs see you there covering the team on a night in/night out basis, they’re less likely to question your motives when you’re critical.

PD4: The number one rule is to not make it personal. When you do that, it is harder to defend. If you are critical of the team because they are playing bad, no problem, but taking low blows at people in the spirit of being mean and hurtful is just not smart. So, if there is a complaint, I usually just try to first get context by listening back to the content, and then try to make it clear that this is an opinion based business and the opinions being sharing are based on what’s happening on the field. If the product is better, the talk will be more positive. If the product is not good, that talk is not going to be positive. The key as a programmer is you have to serve as a buffer so that you protect your talent’s ability to speak their mind as much as possible. You have to be willing to take the calls, talk through the difficult conversations, hear the complaints and stay calm and focused. Many times the situation will dissipate.

PD5: Welcome to business. Generally, we give our partners the benefit of the doubt, and we try to keep critiques between the lines. Not all stations do or need to operate that way but that’s how we value our relationships with teams, weekly guests, networks, sponsors, etc.

If you had to choose between keeping your play by play rights and your #1 personality, what would you choose? Why?

PD1: Personality by far. That is what makes talk radio unique and it carries your programming year round. It’s hard to believe you would ever have to consider choosing between both.

PD2: It would depend on the talent. If my #1 personality was king of the city and entrenched in the market for 10+ years then you stick with the talent. If the #1 talent is doing well but not crushing/overshadowing every other show, then you have to look for somebody else while trying to work with the talent/team in order to keep the relationship with the team. Each circumstance is different.

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PD3: I would always choose my #1 personality. That said, this is a business and it’s a much more complex question. Many programmers know that you can back your talent all you want but if you don’t have support of your management team than it won’t matter. I know Mike Valenti is an incredible talent who can be abrasive and come close to crossing the line, but the key in that situation turning out the way it did was a result of his GM having his back.

PD4: I’d rather keep my best show than the rights to a local team. But if a station doesn’t have a singular, dominant personality with major market appeal, then they’d probably lean towards sticking with their play by play rights.

PD5: You keep your #1 personality, hands down. Play-by-play is fleeting (one year they might be great, the next they might suck) and seasonal. My personalities are on year-round. Personalities can help make the radio station more money thru solid ratings, promotional opportunities, endorsements & appearances, plus they’re involved in our community outreach. No question in my mind about this one.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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Barrett Blogs

Mina Kimes, Bruce Gilbert, Mitch Rosen, and Stacey Kauffman Join the 2023 BSM Summit

“By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference.”

Jason Barrett

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The 2023 BSM Summit is returning to Los Angeles on March 21-22, 2023, live from the Founders Club at the Galen Center at the campus of the University of Southern California. Information on tickets and hotel rooms can be found at BSMSummit.com.

We’ve previously announced sixteen participants for our upcoming show, and I’m excited today to confirm the additions of four more more smart, successful professionals to be part of the event. Before I do that, I’d like to thank The Volume for signing on as our Badge sponsor, the Motor Racing Network for securing the gift bag sponsorship, and Bonneville International for coming on board as a Session sponsor. We do have some opportunities available but things are moving fast this year, so if you’re interested in being involved, email Stephanie Eads at Sales@BarrettSportsMedia.com.

Now let’s talk about a few of the speaker additions for the show.

First, I am thrilled to welcome ESPN’s Mina Kimes to the Summit for her first appearance. Mina and I had the pleasure recently of connecting on a podcast (go listen to it) and I’ve been a fan of her work for years. Her intellect, wit, football acumen, and likeability have served her well on television, podcasts, and in print. She’s excelled as an analyst on NFL Live and Rams preseason football games, as a former host of the ESPN Daily podcast, and her appearances on Around The Horn and previously on Highly Questionable and the Dan Le Batard Show were always entertaining. I’m looking forward to having Mina join FS1’s Joy Taylor and ESPN LA 710 PD Amanda Brown for an insightful conversation about the industry.

Next is another newcomer. I’m looking forward to having Audacy San Francisco and Sacramento Regional Vice President Stacey Kauffman in the building for our 2023 show. In addition to overseeing a number of music brands, Stacey also oversees a dominant news/talk outlet, and two sports radio brands. Among them are my former station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and ESPN 1320 in Sacramento. I’m looking forward to having her participate in our GM panel with Good Karma’s Sam Pines, iHeart’s Don Martin, and led by Bonneville’s Executive Vice President Scott Sutherland.

From there, it’s time to welcome back two of the sharpest sports radio minds in the business. Bruce Gilbert is the SVP of Sports for Westwood One and Cumulus Media. He’s seen and done it all on the local and national level and anytime he’s in the room to share his programming knowledge with attendees, everyone leaves the room smarter. I’m anticipating another great conversation on the state of sports radio, which FOX Sports Radio VP of programming Scott Shapiro will be a part of.

Another student of the game and one of the top programmers in the format today is 670 The Score in Chicago PD, Mitch Rosen. The former Mark Chernoff Award recipient and recently appointed VP of the BetQL Network juggles managing a top 3 market sports brand while being charged with moving an emerging sports betting network forward. Count on Mr. Rosen to offer his insights and opinions during another of our branding and programming discussions.

By the time we get to March, we should have somewhere between 40-60 participants involved in the conference. My focus now is on finalizing our business and digital sessions, research, tech and sports betting panels, securing our locations and sponsorships for the After Party and Kickoff Party, plus working out the details for a few high-profile executive appearances and a couple of surprises.

For those looking to attend and save a few dollars on tickets, we’ll be holding a special Black Friday Sale this Friday November 25th. Just log on to BSMSummit.com that day to save $50 on individual tickets. In addition, thanks to the generosity of voice talent extraordinaire Steve Kamer, we’ll be giving away 10 tickets leading up to the conference. Stay tuned for details on the giveaway in the months ahead.

Still to come is an announcement about our special ticket rate for college students looking to attend the show and learn. We also do an annual contest for college kids to attend the event for free which I’m hoping to have ready in the next few weeks. It’s also likely we’ll give away a few tickets to industry professionals leading up to Christmas, so keep an eye out.

If you work in the sports media industry and value making connections, celebrating those who create an impact, and learning about the business from folks who have experienced success, failure, and everything in between, the Summit is worth your time. I’m excited to have Mina, Bruce, Mitch and Stacey join us for the show, and look forward to spending a few days with the industry’s best and brightest this March! Hope to see you there.

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Barrett Blogs

Barrett Media is Making Changes To Better Serve Our Sports and News Media Readers

“We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future.”

Jason Barrett

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When I launched this website all I wanted to do was share news, insight and stories about broadcasters and brands. My love, passion and respect for this business is strong, and I know many of you reading this feel similar. I spent two great decades in radio watching how little attention was paid to those who played a big part in their audiences lives. The occasional clickbait story and contract drama would find their way into the newspapers but rarely did you learn about the twists and turns of a broadcaster’s career, their approach to content or the tactics and strategies needed to succeed in the industry. When personal reasons led me home to NY in 2015, I decided I was going to try my best to change that.

Since launching this brand, we’ve done a good job informing and entertaining media industry professionals, while also helping consulting clients and advertising partners improve their businesses. We’ve earned respect from the industry’s top stars, programming minds and mainstream media outlets, growing traffic from 50K per month to 500K and monthly social impressions from a few thousand to a few million. Along the way we’ve added conferences, rankings, podcasts, a member directory, and as I’ve said before, this is the best and most important work I’ve ever done, and I’m not interested in doing anything else.

If I’ve learned anything over seven years of operating a digital content company it’s that you need skill, strategy, passion, differentiating content, and good people to create impact. You also need luck, support, curiosity and an understanding of when to double down, cut bait or pivot. It’s why I added Stephanie Eads as our Director of Sales and hired additional editors, columnists and features reporters earlier this year. To run a brand like ours properly, time and investment are needed. We’ve consistently grown and continue to invest in our future, and it’s my hope that more groups will recognize the value we provide, and give greater consideration to marketing with us in the future.

But with growth comes challenges. Sometimes you can have the right idea but bad timing. I learned that when we launched Barrett News Media.

We introduced BNM in September 2020, two months before the election when emotions were high and COVID was a daily discussion. I wasn’t comfortable then of blending BNM and BSM content because I knew we’d built a trusted sports media resource, and I didn’t want to shrink one audience while trying to grow another. Given how personal the election and COVID became for folks, I knew the content mix would look and feel awkward on our site.

So we made the decision to start BNM with its own website. We ran the two brands independently and had the right plan of attack, but discovered that our timing wasn’t great.

The first nine months readership was light, which I expected since we were new and trying to build an audience from scratch. I believed in the long-term mission, which was why I stuck with it through all of the growing pains, but I also felt a responsibility to make sure our BNM writing team and the advertising partners we forged relationships with were being seen by as many people as possible. We continued with the original plan until May 2021 when after a number of back and forth debates, I finally agreed to merge the two sites. I figured if WFAN could thrive with Imus in the Morning and Mike and the Mad Dog in the afternoon, and the NY Times, LA Times, KOA, KMOX and numerous other newspaper and radio brands could find a way to blend sports and news/talk, then so could we.

And it worked.

We dove in and started to showcase both formats, building social channels and groups for each, growing newsletter databases, and with the addition of a few top notch writers, BNM began making bigger strides. Now featured under the BSM roof, the site looked bigger, the supply of daily content became massive, and our people were enjoying the increased attention.

Except now we had other issues. Too many stories meant many weren’t being read and more mistakes were slipping through the cracks. None of our crew strive to misspell a word or write a sloppy headline but when the staff and workload doubles and you’re trying to focus on two different formats, things can get missed. Hey, we’re all human.

Then a few other things happened that forced a larger discussion with my editors.

First, I thought about how much original material we were creating for BSM from our podcast network, Summit, Countdown to Coverage series, Meet the Market Managers, BSM Top 20, and began to ask myself ‘if we’re doing all of this for sports readers, what does that tell folks who read us for news?’ We then ran a survey to learn what people valued about our brand and though most of the feedback was excellent, I saw how strong the response was to our sports content, and how news had grown but felt second fiddle to those offering feedback.

Then, Andy Bloom wrote an interesting column explaining why radio hosts would be wise to stop talking about Donald Trump. It was the type of piece that should’ve been front and center on a news site all day but with 3 featured slots on the site and 7 original columns coming in that day, they couldn’t all be highlighted the way they sometimes should be. We’re actually going through that again today. That said, Andy’s column cut through. A few sports media folks didn’t like seeing it on the site, which wasn’t a surprise since Trump is a polarizing personality, but the content resonated well with the news/talk crowd.

National talk radio host Mike Gallagher was among the folks to see Andy’s piece, and he spent time on his show talking about the column. Mike’s segment was excellent, and when he referenced the article, he did the professional thing and credited our website – Barrett SPORTS Media. I was appreciative of Mike spending time on his program discussing our content but it was a reminder that we had news living under a sports roof and it deserved better than that.

I then read some of Pete Mundo, Doug Pucci and Rick Schultz’s columns and Jim Cryns’ features on Chris Ruddy, Phil Boyce, and David Santrella, and knew we were doing a lot of quality work but each time we produced stories, folks were reminded that it lived on a SPORTS site. I met a few folks who valued the site, recognized the increased focus we put on our news/talk coverage, and hoped we had plans to do more. Jim also received feedback along the lines of “good to see you guys finally in the news space, hope there’s more to come.”

Wanting to better understand our opportunities and challenges, I reviewed our workflow, looked at which content was hitting and missing the mark, thought about the increased relationships we’d worked hard to develop, and the short-term and long-term goals for BNM. I knew it was time to choose a path. Did I want to think short-term and keep everything under one roof to protect our current traffic and avoid disrupting people or was it smarter to look at the big picture and create a destination where news/talk media content could be prioritized rather than treated as BSM’s step-child?

Though I spent most of my career in sports media and established BSM first, it’s important to me to serve the news/talk media industry our very best. I want every news/talk executive, host, programmer, market manager, agent, producer, seller and advertiser to know this format matters to us. Hopefully you’ve seen that in the content we’ve created over the past two years. My goal is to deliver for news media professionals what we have for sports media folks and though that may be a tall order, we’re going to bust our asses to make it happen. To prove that this isn’t just lip service, here’s what we’re going to do.

Starting next Monday November 28th, we are relaunching BarrettNewsMedia.com. ALL new content produced by the BNM writing team will be available daily under that URL. For the first 70-days we will display news media columns from our BNM writers on both sites and support them with promotion across both of our brands social channels. The goal is to have the two sites running independent of each other by February 6, 2023.

Also starting on Monday November 28th, we will begin distributing the BNM Rundown newsletter 5 days per week. We’ve been sending out the Rundown every M-W-F since October 2021, but the time has come for us to send it out daily. With increased distribution comes two small adjustments. We will reduce our daily story count from 10 to 8 and make it a goal to deliver it to your inbox each day by 3pm ET. If you haven’t signed up to receive the Rundown, please do. You can click here to register. Be sure to scroll down past the 8@8 area.

Additionally, Barrett News Media is going to release its first edition of the BNM Top 20 of 2022. This will come out December 12-16 and 19-20. The category winners will be decided by more than 50 news/talk radio program directors and executives. Among the categories to be featured will be best Major/Mid Market Local morning, midday, and afternoon show, best Local News/Talk PD, best Local News/Talk Station, best National Talk Radio Show, and best Original Digital Show. The voting process with format decision makers begins today and will continue for two weeks. I’ve already got a number of people involved but if you work in an executive or programming role in the news/talk format and wish to be part of it, send an email to me at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.

We have one other big thing coming to Barrett News Media in 2023, which I will announce right after the BNM Top 20 on Wednesday December 21st. I’m sure news/talk professionals will like what we have planned but for now, it’ll have to be a month long tease. I promise though to pay it off.

Additionally, I’m always looking for industry folks who know and love the business and enjoy writing about it. If you’ve programmed, hosted, sold or reported in the news/talk world and have something to offer, email me. Also, if you’re a host, producer, programmer, executive, promotions or PR person and think something from your brand warrants coverage on our site, send it along. Most of what we write comes from listening to stations and digging across the web and social media. Receiving your press releases and getting a heads up on things you’re doing always helps.

If you’re a fan of BSM, this won’t affect you much. The only difference you’ll notice in the coming months is a gradual reduction of news media content on the BSM website and our social accounts sharing a little about both formats over the next two months until we’re officially split in February. We are also going to dabble a little more in marketing, research and tech content that serves both formats. If you’re a reader who enjoys both forms of our content, you’ll soon have BarrettSportsMedia.com for sports, and BarrettNewsMedia.com for news.

Our first two years in the news/talk space have been very productive but we’ve only scratched the surface. Starting November 28th, news takes center stage on BarrettNewsMedia.com and sports gets less crowded on BarrettSportsMedia.com. We had the right plan of attack in 2020, but poor timing. So we’re learning from the past and adjusting for the future. If we can count on you to remember two URL’s (add them to your bookmarks) and sign up for our newsletters, then you can count on us to continue delivering exceptional coverage of the industry you love. As always, thanks for the continued support. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

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